PM360 Q & A with Renee Selman, President of Catalina Health

When in March 2010, Renee Selman took over as president of Catalina Health, a company committed to behavior-based patient education, they hit the reset button. By 2011, she helped the company develop a new strategic platform and has been evolving its business model ever since. Catalina now places the health consumer at the core of everything it does with an overall vision to “improve behaviors one health consumer at a time.” Under Renee, the company has invested significantly to better understand emotional drivers behind patient adherence. It has a robust privacy protected database, which utilizing anonymized, aggregated data, is leveraged and married with learnings from its Health Consumer Insights research (qualitative and quantitative). Thanks to that anonymized data, the company now has a holistic view of the patient and his/her health journey, which allows Catalina Health to deliver customized patient education in critical spaces—the pharmacy and physician offices where eprescribing is available. The ability to completely refocus an entire company requires a rare quality, so PM360 caught up with Renee to find out how—and why—she did it.

PM360: When you joined the company over two years ago, what challenges did you face and how did you answer them?

Renee Selman:  It’s a challenging environment right now. I’ve been in healthcare for well over 20 years and there are paradigm shifts going on in the marketplace that are absolutely unprecedented. I think back to how up in arms everyone was about managed care. Now, healthcare reform is making the dialogue really different. Prevention wellness is starting to matter and they’re starting to talk about changing the way phyisicans get paid. The system won’t change until there are changes to the compensation models in the industry.
Frankly, when you have such mass change going on in an environment you have to first step back and take a real, honest assessment of the external environment. You look at the landscape and figure out what needs to be done. Set a roadmap. Get really focused on that roadmap and get great people in place to go execute against it.

We’re told that you’ve reset the company. What exactly does that mean?

The biggest part of the reset was placing the health consumer at the center of everything we do. We were spending a lot of time talking about what’s going on in brand pharma; what’s going on with patent expirations; what’s going on with the traditional pharmaceutical business; what’s happening with retailers.
It’s outcomes that are important. Health consumers are really at the center of the healthcare value proposition for everybody. That was an important part of the thinking behind the reset. Because then you ask questions differently. You ask if that is in the best interest of the health consumer.

And we’ve renamed them “health consumers.” Health consumers is a broader term than “patient,” which connotes someone who has been diagnosed with a disease. We think a health consumer is even more important because that’s somebody who is trying to just live healthy but at some point may have been diagnosed with a particular disease. However, a lot of people talk about consumers without ever trying to truly understand them.

How do you balance precision targeting and patient privacy in collecting and applying your transaction data?

It’s a great question, because I think a lot of people don’t really understand what we do. Catalina does not touch protected health information (PHI) at all. We don’t need it to be able to deliver clinically relevant treatment information. We can operate with de-identified information based on a National Drug Code (NDC), which can help trigger customized messages.

What is the health consumer journey that has become the focus of Catalina’s business model?

Very simply, it is a recognition of the fact that every individual has a process that they go through. In this case, we’re frequently talking about when they’ve been diagnosed with some sort of ailment, disease, etc. The journey could be something as simple as when people first find out. There is a lot of emotion attached to that moment. Then as they progress through different stages of their health journey, they have needs for different kinds of information. We work to communicate what they need and when they need it, based on where they are in the journey.

But PHI, in terms of having a person’s name, address, date of birth—we don’t need it. We don’t want it. It actually never leaves the pharmacy. Privacy is absolutely at the core of our mission, which is why we’re proud of the process that we have. It’s a patent-protected process to de-identify and it can’t be re-identified, so we never take possession of PHI data from the retailer.

We talk about delivering the right message through the right medium to the right consumer at the right time. How does one make it work consistently?

Anybody who has ever spent some time in marketing knows that segmentation is not a perfect science. But by marrying insights and behavior-based actual data related to NDC we get some pretty amazing correlation that helps us personalize these messages in a significantly more relevant way than just the cookie-cutter approach of the past.

Catalina is constantly correlating data and reporting on the results. What are two or three of the most interesting or counterintuitive findings you’ve come across in the past year?

One of the biggiest pieces of information is finding that people really do not want to be treated like a number. Health is very personal to them, and their situation is very personal to them. When messaging lands the same way on 100 million people—that almost annoys them. It has a negative effect on your ability to get a message through. Now, that’s not counterintuitive when you think about it, in fact, that’s really logical. But we probably should spend more time truly understanding individuals and customizing information for them.

What are the main challenges for the coming year?

I am an optimist. When I look at the landscape and I see this much chaos and this much shifting of old traditional paradigms, I see a fantastic opportunity available because there is going to be significant unmet needs. And there is going to be an opportunity to help and Catalina Health is in a unique position to do so.

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